O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Based on Mark 4:35-41
Preached on June 24, 2018
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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Stunned! Astounded! Completely terrified, the disciples asked each other: “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” It’s one thing to face gale force winds and waves that threaten to take your boat under! It’s quite another to stand before the Creator of those winds and waves!
And that’s exactly who the disciples woke from His sleep! Yes, that’s right! Little did they know that when they poked and prodded the sleepy head Jesus and cried out in desperation, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” that they were dealing with their Creator!
“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Be muzzled! Shush! That’s enough! Be silent!’” And His words do exactly and precisely what they say! “Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
The fully awake Jesus speaks. His speaking is dynamic! Powerful! He speaks and what He says happens!
Scared stiff! Petrified! No longer by the winds and waves! But by the Teacher Jesus! “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Well, Teacher Jesus is the very Creator in their midst! Right there on the boat! Right there on the sea! Teacher Jesus speaks just like the Creator of Genesis 1. You remember? How did the Creator create everything? Yes, that’s right, He opened up His mouth! He had a Word to speak! He preached! “Let there be light … Let there be an expanse … Let there be water and land… Let us make man in our image.”
And His Words do exactly what they say! Whatever the Creator preaches – happens!
No wonder that Creator God in the flesh Jesus sleeps on the captain’s cushion in the very back of the boat while the storm raged. He’s completely at peace. Not a care in the world! The whipping winds and whitecaps pose no threat to Him! Master and Commander is properly in His spot.
So of all the boats on the sea that night which one is the safest? This one! Why? Because four of the twelve are weathered and seasoned fishermen? Or is it because Jesus is there - even though He’s snoozing? I believe you know the answer to that question!
But this is all for something, isn’ it? Not an accident. Not a coincidence. Jesus was the One who said, “Let us go across to the other side,” in the middle of the night. Jesus is teaching them something. Teaching you something. How far - do you trust Jesus? He asked His disciples, and He is asking you again this morning: Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Seriously: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
How far do you trust Jesus? Do you trust Him when He appears to be completely unmindful to your chronic pain or illness? Do you trust Him when he seems to be totally unmindful of your desperate economic situation or oblivious to your breaking or broken marriage and/or family? Do you trust Him when your life is a wreck and it’s ripping apart at the seams? How many times have you prayed when chaos threatens to sink you: “Don’t you care about me Lord? Where are you? Are you sleeping?”
Do you trust a sleeping Jesus?
How about the Jesus who goes into the deep sleep of death on the cross? Can you trust Him there?
The disciples trusted Him only a little bit! A snoring Jesus was essentially no good to them! They only trusted Him enough to grab Him and shake Him by the shoulders in order to wake Him up. All they could do was complain: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Big faith trusts Jesus even while He sleeps! Big faith rests comfortably with Jesus! There wasn’t any place safer than to be with Jesus – even while He slumbers, siestas, dozes and naps! Big faith trusts Jesus even if the unthinkable happened – like the boat capsizing and all of the disciples go under – BECAUSE JESUS WOULD GO DOWN WITH THEM!
Imagine if we watched the unthinkable that I just described! It was a real possibility for the disciples! The four of them that were fishermen knew it! Let’s pretend that it really happens and we see it all from the shore! All hands on deck! They can’t bail the water fast enough. They can’t steer the boat to shore. And they can’t wake Him up! THEY CAN’T WAKE HIM UP!
Then the boat sinks! The disciples are smashed by the waves. They are going under! Then they go under! What do we expect? We anticipate Jesus to wake up, fly out of the sea and pull a Superman or an Avengers! Pull the disciples out of the water, bring them to shore, give them mouth-to-mouth, and save them! All to our incredible whoops and hollers of joy!
But it doesn’t happen! Let’s say the most shocking and horrific thing of all happens! They all go under – Jesus included! They don’t come up! We are sick to our stomachs! Totally let down! Baffled! Bummed! We simply can’t believe it! How can Jesus just keep on snoring and sleeping and let twelve people die like that? This is just awful!
While we’re still lamenting what has happened, a messenger runs up to us. He has a note! Handwritten! By Jesus Himself! “Jesus wanted you to have this everyone! He wanted me to deliver this important message to you. It’s this: ‘It’s all Okay. Trust Me. The disciples are safe in My death.’”
And you thought trusting a sleeping Jesus in the midst of the everyday life chaos was tough? How about the dead Jesus? Can you trust that Jesus with your death? Well, can you?
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
No need to fear brothers and sisters. Creator, Savior, God Jesus is awake! He has risen from the dead! Never to die again! He is physically and bodily present with us right now and we with Him in the little boat of His Church!
I know, I know! The Church looks like she’s going under! Dying! Buffeted and rocked by all kinds of heretical winds and satanic waves. But I tell you there no safer place to be! Things couldn’t be any better in the Church! Why? Because Jesus is in the back of the little boat, His Church, guiding her and protecting her with His promises: “Lo I am with you always to the end of the age;” “I died for you and rose for you!” “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;” Yes, that means you Izzy.
Don’t be fooled brothers and sisters! Things aren’t always what they look like. Jesus is always in charge of everything. He’s in control. All revealed in His own quiet, humble and hidden ways. His strength appears in weakness. His divine power is hidden in His exhausted sleeping body in the boat and most especially in the beaten, broken man who hangs dead on the cross defeating your sin!
Creator, God, Rescuer Jesus’ powerful Word that quieted the storm is still spoken today among you! To save you as you have been submerged in the water of Holy Baptism! To forgive your sins in the Absolution and in the bread that is His Body and the wine that is His Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar!
And you too, are seized with holy fear, as Jesus stands before you in this place, to forgive your sins. For He is God! And He’s here! Speaking. Teaching. Preaching. We could easily turn to one another and say, “Who is this? Even our trespasses and sins obey Him! They shut up. Have nothing to say to us. Because of His Word of forgiveness, and the power of His most holy blood.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” the Psalms admit. In other words, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of faith – faith only in Jesus! Jesus preached this, remember: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One [God] who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” In other words, FEAR GOD and then you have nothing else to fear. The fear of the Lord means the end of all other fear! The fear of the Lord swallows up all other fear! The fear of the LORD is faith.
The Lord Jesus wants all your fears, your deepest dreads, whatever troubles you! Whatever terrifies you! Whatever keeps you up sleepless at night! Whatever causes you to panic! Why? Because He absorbs it all into His death! He nails it all to His cross! He buries it all in His tomb! And He speaks an ordering Word – a creative Word – into the chaos, death, and darkness of your lives: “Be still! Be quiet!”
Who is this Jesus that even the winds and the sea obey Him? He is the Creator – the Son of God. Your Creator. And He made you in order to redeem you with His Blood!
Like the disciples, we all have little faith. But little faith turns into big faith when Jesus speaks and we realize who He really is: like when in a few moments He offers you His Body and Blood “given and shed for you and for your forgiveness.” It’s for your little faith that it might become big faith. Big faith only because it trusts in Bigger, Stronger Jesus!
Today, you are given to trust only in Him! Even when everything looks bleak and hopeless! Even as your boat or the boat called the Church looks like it’s all going under! You are given to trust in Him even while He seems to be asleep! You can trust Him with your life! And even with your death!
“It’s all Okay! You too - are safe in my death!” What a wonderful promise! In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr